Top 20 Tips and Hacks to Travel Like a Kiva Pro

Kivans travel a ton, for work and for fun, so we crowdsourced the best travel hacks our staff and volunteers use on their trips around the globe. These tips will not only make your journey easier but will also give you more insight into the place you’re visiting.


Photo by Flickr user Lyza Danger


1. When you pack a suitcase, wrap your shoes in a shower cap to keep luggage clean.

2. Stick a dryer sheet in your suitcase with your clothes to keep them smelling fresh.

3. Fold your soap in a wash cloth.

4. Compression sacks are great for making the most of your packing space.

5. For longer or more adventurous trips, make sure to have a few feet of duct tape wrapped around a pencil stub–duct tape fixes everything.

6. Bring a few ziplock bags (quart and freezer size) along especially if you’re going on dirty or water-filled adventures.

7. Label ziplock bags with the plugs and cords you’re traveling with. It will remind you to check the outlets before you leave.


8. Tripadvisor everything.

9. Keep your drivers license/ID and a credit card separate from your passport and a debit card, or whatever combination you prefer. Scan your passport, ID, and itinerary and email it to yourself so you have a digital copy in the event of loss or theft.

Photo by Flickr user LucastheExperience

10. Tell your bank your travel schedule (including stop overs), and know the number to call to re-activate your card if it gets frozen.


Photo by Flickr user Spreng Ben

11. When booking a flight: use a private browser or clear your cookies. Travel sites often track your visits and will raise the price simply because you’ve visited before.

12. Try to travel Tuesday through Thursday, you will have more of a chance of emptier flights. Select a seat toward the back of the plane, it is more likely you can get a whole row to yourself!


Photo by Flickr user Tinou Bao

13. Get WiFi passwords by checking comments on FourSquare.

14. Study a city map beforehand, it will easily save you a half hour of backtracking, plus you don’t look like a vulnerable, lost tourist.

Photo by Emily Roiter

15. Learn a few words or phrases (5–10 will do you wonders) in the local language before arriving: hello, please, thanks, English?, help, how much, where is _____, beer, water, etc…it can go a really long way you’ll get a lot of smiles in return for trying.

16. Keep one or two 2013 US $100s stashed somewhere, away from all other papers and currency. Exchanging newer US $100’s will get you the best exchange rate.

17. Have gum, cough drops, or mints with you, they’re good conversation starters with new friends!

18. When sleeping on trains or anywhere public, put a fanny pack or backpack across your chest. They often have a lovely zipper compartment that you can only access from the back of the bag, which is against your chest. This protects you from any potential pickpockets!

19. If you’re going to give stuff to kids on the street, share a snack with them or give them a pen. Try not to contribute to the cycle of forced begging. Buying things from children also encourages them to skip school.

Photo by Tess Murphy

20. On the last day of your trip to a foreign country, collect all of your loose change and donate it!

Happy and safe travels everyone!

About the author

Tess Murphy

After graduating from Fordham University with a B.A. in Political Science and French, Tess decided to book a one-way flight to Asia, volunteering as she traveled. She found that the best way to close the gap between what she saw and the people back home was the share these experiences through writing blogs. Tess saw how local businesses can help improve the lives of the community while preserving their cultural traditions. She described how Cambodian farmers, Vietnamese teachers and Malaysian artists all have similar ambitions to their American counterparts. People everywhere want to succeed and technology helps connect these ambitions. After finishing her travels, Tess joined the Marketing Team at Kiva as an intern, where she focused on the inspiring stories behind each borrower. Behind the amount of the loan is an enriching story about that entrepreneur’s life. By shedding light on these stories to lenders, Tess saw how relatable stories can help drive enterprise. After completing her forthcoming fellowship in Zimbabwe and South Africa, Tess hopes to continue a development and content driven career in social enterprise.